Updated February 16th, 2024 at 13:23 IST

Ukraine's Zelenskyy Signs Law that Legalises Medical Use of Cannabis

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy signed a historic law that legalises the use of medical cannabis in the war-stricken nation.

Reported by: Bhagyasree Sengupta
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy during a visit to the Zaporizhzhia region. | Image:AP / File Photo
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Kyiv – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy signed a historic law that legalises the use of medical cannabis in the war-stricken nation. According to the Ukrainian news outlet Kyiv Independent, the legislation which was passed on Thursday, aimed to help veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder and provide pain relief to people who are suffering from serious illnesses like cancer. The law came to the president's table after it was passed by the Ukrainian parliament on December 21, 2023. With the intention of using it for medicinal purposes, the legislation  licenses the economic activity of cultivating hemp for medical, industrial, and scientific purposes "to create conditions for expanding patients' access to the necessary treatment of oncological diseases and post-traumatic stress disorders."

Shortly after the law was passed, the Ukrainian lawmaker Yaroslav Zhelezniak took to Telegram to inform that the law would come into effect in July 2024. In the post, Zhelezniak made it clear that once the legislation comes into force, the distribution of cannabis for recreational purposes would still be prohibited and only people with a doctor's prescription would be able to buy cannabis legally. "The distribution of marijuana for recreational use will continue to be a crime and will be investigated by the police in accordance with the law," Zhelezniak wrote on Telegram on Thursday. “Medicines based on medical cannabis can be obtained only by electronic prescription. This prescription will be prescribed by the doctor to the patient according to his condition, as is currently the case with morphine,” he added. 

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Zelenskyy has been an advocate of the legislation 

The Ukrainian president has voiced support for the legalization of medical cannabis in his address to the parliament in June last year. Commemorating the country's Constitution Day, the  Ukrainian leader touched upon legal reforms in the matter and stated that it is the “need of the hour”. The topic of legalisation of medicinal marijuana has been long debated in the county. While many argued in favour of the benefits it can bring when it comes to treating certain illnesses, others feared legalizing medical marijuana would eventually lead to an influx of drugs in Ukrainian cities. The debate gained momentum ever since the commencement of the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war. The war led to many people in the country suffering from stress and anxiety. However, it also led to many fears that Russia could use it as some sort of tool for their own benefit. 

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Published February 16th, 2024 at 13:23 IST